This National Train Day experience some unique and beautiful railways around the world
Trains are a great way to see the world, taking you through truly phenomenal scenery that is often inaccessible by other forms of transport and at a pace perfect for appreciating the view. Which is why on the occasion of National Train Day, the leading travel brand Booking.com has rounded up beautiful train destination landscapes around the world for everyone to experience. From straw mats on a bamboo track to a coal-powered steam train chugging through the Himalayas, bookmark these most wonderful train journeys for when you plan your next travel.
With a shrill whistle, plumes of steam and smoke billowing from its coal engine, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway rumbles along its narrow track through the misty mountains. Affectionately-known as the ‘Toy Train’, this locomotive has been transporting tea and passengers up the steep inclines of the Lower Himalayas since the late 1800s; a feat of engineering at the time that still impresses today. As it makes its way from Darjeeling to Ghum, the highest train station in India, the blue carriages of the train skim buildings and traffic by inches along the old Hill Cart Road. Before opening up to mesmerizing views of the terraced tea plantations and snow-capped Himalayas. Stay at the Dekeling Resort, overlooking the Darjeeling Hills and Kanchenjunga Range.
Battambang Bamboo Train, Cambodia
The Battambang Bamboo Train is essentially a warm-weather toboggan ride, powered by a small motorbike engine. In a town called Battambang in the northwestern part of Cambodia, the notorious ‘bamboo train’ is a piece of back-to-basics engineering for thrill-seeking travellers. Perched on straw mats laid across a bamboo platform, you’ll hurtle through rice paddies and over rickety bridges at a speed of up to 40km per hour. Hold on tight with the wind rushing through your hair and try to take in the tropical Cambodian landscape as you speed past. Ramchang is an affordable, orange- and yellow-painted guesthouse in the center of Battambang.
Puffing Billy, Australia
The opportunity to dangle your legs out the window of an old steam train as you chug through a verdant mountain range makes Australia’s Puffing Billy an unforgettable experience. The route winds through the Dandenong Mountains and the Yarra Valley, past cascades, creeks and lime-green ferns, with sunlight seeping through the tall, thin gum and mountain ash trees. But the most photogenic part of the train journey is probably the Monbulk Trestle Bridge, an old timber bridge that carries the train out of Belgrave and towards Menzies Creek. And it’s only an hour from Melbourne, so pack a picnic for an easy and whimsical afternoon in the bush. Use this highly rated apartment in South Yarra, Melbourne, as your base in the city.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, USA
A heritage railroad cutting across some of Colorado’s most epic scenery, The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway tracks follow the Animas River through wilderness inaccessible by road. The railway was built in 1882 but steam locomotives are still used today, albeit for tourists keen to take in the utterly phenomenal views. You’ll pass river canyons, pine-covered valleys, waterfalls, snowy peaks and a few elk, deer and moose if you’re lucky. Choose between open-air viewing gondola carriages for breathing in the fresh mountain air, or sit in one of the Historical Narration cars where you listen to on-board narrators in period costume discuss the history of the railroad and the region. The journey takes 3-and-a-half hours each way and you can board either end, so stay at the highly rated Leland House in Durango, or The Hotel Telluride, an hour’s drive from remote Silverton.
The Presidential Train, Portugal
The Presidential Train, Portugal's crown jewel, has hosted kings, presidents, heads of State, and popes for more than a century. Built in 1890, The Presidential Train is a time capsule in which passengers travel through history, with a special aroma and purposeful music. As it travels from Porto to Quinta do Vesuvio, on the eastern shore of the Douro Valley, the Presidential Train brings together the world's best chefs with the world's freshest food, paired with wines from the region. Passengers can relax in private cabins and watch the golden valley through their windows as they wait for meal service.